Latin America & the Caribbean

Shouts, charges of ‘stupidity,’ at Brazil president’s trial

FILE - In this Dec. 13, 2015 file photo, a woman holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; "Dilma Out" during a demonstration in favor of the impeachment of Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just days after the Rio Olympics ended, Brazilian senators are now gearing up for a final decision on whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 13, 2015 file photo, a woman holds a sign that reads in Portuguese; “Dilma Out” during a demonstration in favor of the impeachment of Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, on Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Just days after the Rio Olympics ended, Brazilian senators are now gearing up for a final decision on whether to permanently remove Rousseff from office. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — A trial against Brazil’s president turned into a yelling match and was temporarily suspended on Friday after the head of Senate declared “stupidity is endless” and sharply criticized a colleague who had questioned the body’s moral authority.

The second day of the trial against President Dilma Rousseff got off to an edgy start when Senate President Renan Calheiros decided to bring up a comment made on Thursday by Sen. Gleisi Hoffmann, a member of Rousseff’s Workers’ Party.

Hoffmann, who like many in the Senate and lower Chamber of Deputies is being investigated for corruption, had declared that “no one here” had the moral standing to judge Rousseff.

“It can’t be that a senator is saying things like this,” said Calheiros.

In a bizarre and heated exchange with Hoffman and other senators, Calheiros said he had asked the Supreme Court not to raid Hoffman’s home, apparently trying to make the point that federal lawmakers should not be messed with.

“I am very sad because this session is, above all, a statement that stupidity is endless,” said Calheiros.

With several senators shouting at once, Chief Justice Ricardo Lewandowski called for a five minute recess, then changed his mind and said the body would instead return after lunch.

Witnesses for Rousseff’s defense were expected to testify Friday after the prosecution dominated Thursday’s session.

Rousseff, in the middle of her second term, is accused of breaking fiscal rules in her management of the federal budget. She denies wrongdoing and argues that her enemies are carrying out a “coup d’etat.”

Several days of debate, including an address by Rousseff on Monday, will culminate in a vote on whether to permanently remove her from office.

The Senate voted in May to impeach and suspend her for up to 180 days while the trial could be prepared.

Vice President Michel Temer took over in May. If Rousseff is removed, Temer will serve the rest of her term through 2018.
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